Are close up filters any good?

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by DPW2007, Sep 21, 2007.

  1. DPW2007

    DPW2007 TPF Noob!

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    Hey everyone,

    I have various lenses - mostly slow ones.

    Whilst I was looking at fast prime lenses - wide and telephoto, I came across some close up filters.

    Are they recommended for close up/macro photography and has anyone had any experience using them that they can report on?

    Thanks,

    David
     
  2. chris

    chris TPF Noob!

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    Close-up filters are simple magnifying elements that screw into the filter ring on the front of a lens. They come in various strengths which are usually designated by a dioptre number, the greater the number the higher the degree of magnification. If a lens is focussed at infinity and a close-up filter is then attached then the combination will be focussed at the reciprocal of the dioptre value in metres.

    The advantages of close-up filters are that they are usually relatively cheap single lenses (though there are some multi-lens versions around), there is no light loss when using them and they are easy to carry around. The disadvantages are that the single lens versions can give poor performance around around the edges of the image (not very suitable for photographing flat objects where edge-to-edge sharpness is required but fine for subjects such as flower heads). The quality generally will not match a dedicated macro lens or lens and extension tube/bellows combination but they will be considerably cheaper than these options).

    Close-up filters can be stacked - the power of the combination is obtained by adding together the dioptre numbers of the separate lenses.
     
  3. Helen B

    Helen B TPF Noob!

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    There isn't much to add to Chris' excellent answer. Maybe it is worth pointing out the obvious - the close up lens (why are they called 'filters'?) and prime lens combination produces a shorter focal length than the prime lens alone ('prime' in this case being used to refer to the main lens). This shortens the working distance and changes the perspective when compared to using bellows or extension tubes with the prime lens. It's not usually significant, but it may be in some circumstances.

    The formula Chris gave for stacking close up lenses can be used to calculate the combined focal length: just add all the lens powers in dioptres, then take the reciprocal to arrive back at a focal length. Just remember that dioptres are reciprocal metres, not reciprocal millimetres.

    For example a 100 mm lens (100 mm = 0.1 m; 1/0.1 = 10 dioptres) plus a 3 dioptre close up lens gives a 13 dioptre lens, or 77 mm.

    Oh and, as expected, stopping the prime lens down decreases some of the aberrations caused by the addition of the close up lens.

    Best,
    Helen
     
  4. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I've got a set of Hoya close up filters/lenses. They are OK...not spectacular...just OK. As mentioned, they are a cheap way to get into close up or Macro photography.

    To get the best results, it helps to stop down the lens and use a tripod & remote release (or timer).
     

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